Scientific name: Prunus spinosa
The Blackthorn tree , or Sloe as it’s also known, is a small deciduous tree native to the UK and Europe. The tree is also found in North America and New Zealand but is mostly used as a hedging plant. Blackthorn trees can live up to 100 years and grow between 6-7 metres, and thrive in moist well drained soil and full sunlight. The blackthorn tree is a valuable source of nectar in the spring and is also a hermaphrodite. This means both male and female reproductive parts are found in the flowers that grow from the tree and small white flowers appear in March and April.
Interesting Fact: Witchcraft has been long associated with the Blackthorn, that wands and staffs were made using the wood of the tree, now the wood is more commonly associated to produce walking and riding sticks.
Scientific name: Malus sylvestris
The Crab Apple Tree is native to the UK and Europe and can grow up to 10 metres tall and live for 100 years. It is very common for the Crap Apple to grow singly and quite often a wood will only play home to one Crab Apple tree. The tree gets it name from its irregular, round and wide shape. Along with its spreading canopy. Branches can become twisted, especially when exposed to sunlight, twigs can develop spines and this ‘crabbed’ appearance developed the tree’s common name. The fruits and flowers are popular with insects and animals, foxes and badgers are keen on the crab apple fruit, while bees pollinate the flowers.
Interesting Fact: Crab apples have been associated with love and marriage. If you throw the pips into a fire while saying the name of your love, the pip will explode if the love is true.
Scientific name: Sambucus nigra
The Elder tree is native to the UK, however, can also be found in subtropical regions of the world where it can live for 60 years and grow up to 15 metres tall. Once each flower has been pollinated by insects, the flower develops into small, purple sour berries, which ripen from late summer to autumn. The flowers and berries found on the tree are mildly poisonous and must be cooked before eating. Similarly to the Blackthorn tree, Elders are hermaphrodites.
Interesting Fact: it is thought that the elder tree name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘aeld’, meaning fire, as the hollow stems of the elder tree were used as bellows to blow air into the centre of a fire.
Scientific name: Ilex aquifolium
The evergreen Holly tree has long been used to decorate homes in the winter, native to the UK, a Holly tree can live for 300 years and grow to 15 metres. The wood of a Holly tree is the whitest of all woods, commonly stained and polished to make furniture and like the Blackthorn tree, used to make walking sticks. This tree is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers occur on different trees. Once the flowers have been pollinated by insects, the female flowers develop into scarlet berries.
Interesting facts: you can identify the age of a Holly tree by its leaves. Younger trees have spiky leaves, while leaves of older trees are more likely to be smooth.
Scientific name: Corylus Avellana
The deciduous Hazel tree is native to the UK and can also be found across Europe and North Africa. The Hazel tree can grow up to 12 metres if it has not been coppiced (repetitive cutting down of the tree on the same stump, near to ground level, allowing the shoots to regrow from the main stump) and live up to 80 years, however, if coppiced a Hazel tree can live for 500 years. Once pollinated by the wind, the female flowers develop into fruits. The Hazel tree very beneficial to wildlife and native animals like the dormouse use the hazelnuts to fatten themselves up for hibernation.
Interesting fact: Hazel is so bendy in spring that a branch can be tied in a knot without breaking.